Do the cold, dark months make you sad? You are not alone.
“Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), can range from minor doldrums to serious depression in winter,” says Sarah A. Aydt, MD, FAAP, FACP, internal medicine physician/pediatrician at Saint Francis Medical Center. “It’s ultimately a form of depression like any other, and it should not be dismissed as ‘someone just having a bad time’ every year.”
Symptoms include sadness, withdrawal, lack of energy and lack of pleasure. Also, people with SAD may sleep excessively, crave carbohydrates and gain weight – “almost as if in ‘hibernation’ mode,” says Aydt.
Preventive measures and treatments include extra sunlight exposure and exercise. “Light boxes, which produce synthetic ‘sunlight,’ can also be therapeutic through stimulation of the brain’s pineal gland,” says Aydt. “Assuring a normal sleep cycle with melatonin may also help.” Your physician may further recommend behavioral therapy or antidepressants.